ADF families supported with One Tree Community Services official opening
The One Tree Defence Childcare Unit has officially opened this month, supporting families currently serving with the Australian Defence Force (ADF), following the announcement in August 2018 of their appointment as the contract provider for the Defence Childcare Program.
At the time of the announcement of the change in provider last year, a Mission Australia Early Learning spokesperson was quoted in the Katherine Times as saying that despite being disappointed in the turn out of the recent tender, Mission Australia looked forward working with One Tree Community Services to ensure a smooth transition. In their 2018 annual report, Mission Australia forecast that the cessation of their contract with the Australian Government would impact on income in 2018/19.
The creation of the unit sees the One Tree Community Services organisation double in size, as they look to accommodate an extra thousand children at childcare services around Australia.
“It’s a milestone for us and we’re exceptionally proud of the team who’ve worked hard to ensure we’ve reached this point successfully” a spokesperson for the organisation said.
ADF families will be able to freely access individual case management under the unit, One Tree General Manager, Claire McManus said, adding “Defence families can be posted anywhere across Australia and may not be familiar with different locations. We’ve invested in new software, so we can develop an up-to-date, informative database of childcare centres close to bases to help families select a place.”
The database can be used to check availability, find out about the facilities on offer at any given service, and access quality ratings, with the individual case manager working with the ADF family to manage the enrolment and transfer process, Ms McManus said.
Head of Department, Sally Campbell, said it was important for the organisation to understand the specific needs and requirements, adding that One Tree had spent time at ADF networking events, to better understand the context and challenges for ADF families.
Both Ms Campbell and Ms McManus emphasised the importance of a sense of belonging for ADF families, highlighting that defence families face unique challenges such as frequent postings which can mean disruption to everyday lives.
“Children can have long stretches of time without one of their parents, which means as childcare providers we want to give them a sense of belonging in a community which they will enjoy. At the same time, we are fully aware that the likelihood is that they won’t be staying very long at our service,” Ms McManus said.
The One Tree Defence Childcare Unit also offers a unique experience to adult family members not serving in the ADF, who may want to train and become educators. Ms McManus outlined the positioning of One Tree, who are also a registered training organisation, as giving provision to train people in early childhood education and care (ECEC)
The One Tree Defence Childcare Unit said they have already had enquiries from people keen to take up training opportunities.
Minister for Defence Personnel Darren Chester emphasised the value of the Defence Childcare Program, and of One Tree Community Services as provider of choice, saying “One Tree Community Services, a national not-for-profit organisation, has 45 years’ experience delivering childhood education and care in the community.”
Highlighting the importance of the program, Mr Chester said that, on average, ADF families move around Australia every two to three years, and often have limited notice when they have to relocate for Service reasons.
The Defence Childcare Program offers day care and after school hours care at 17 locations to support ADF members and their families who relocate regularly due to postings. More information about the Defence Childcare Program and other support for military families is available from Defence Community Organisation’s website.
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